The XX Factor

What Was Your Father’s Bachelor Name?

On the subject of matrimonial name-changes , Josiah Neufeld has a piece in the Globe and Mail about his own decision to change his name to that of his wife. There’s all the usual angst that comes with a semantic switch of identity, plus some gender-based scorn from the relatives (they think he’s joined a “matrilineal cult”), plus a kind of lexical void: What does a man who assumes a new name call the one he leaves behind? As Nuefield puts it, “I need a good title for my maiden name: ‘former name’ is boring; ‘ex-name’ sounds like a cast-off lover; ‘birth name’ implies I was adopted; ‘unmarried name’ evokes a monastic twin who hasn’t called since moving to Tibet.” What say you, commenters?